Cambodia: Kingdom Ticking The Right Boxes To Attract Post-COVID Investment

As we move well into Q4 2022, everyone is hoping the COVID period is in our rear view mirror, and the Kingdom of Cambodia has done an excellent job overall of ensuring its citizens, visitors, and investors are healthy – and the right steps have been taken to ensure a path for a healthy economic state of recovery.

Make It Easy And they Will Come (and Spend)

With the Southeast Asian nations all competing for the slice of the regional investment pie, many nations have introduced new visa schemes such as the ten-year Golden Visa in Thailand, the Investment Visa in Singapore, or the Special Investor Resident Visa (SIRV) which aim to spur not only investors, but to attract top global talent particularly in sectors such as technology-heavy industries.

In the Kingdom, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) of Cambodia announced a special tourism policy “aimed at attracting long-stay tourists, high-spenders, repeat tourists and potential tourists who can be investors in the country.”

The Ministry’s permanent secretary of state Tith Chantha added that the policy is important to attract high-income international tourists to visit and stay in Cambodia for a long time and to create more investment in Cambodia.”

The MoT plans to offer a Angkor Lifetime Pass to help attract foreigners to Siem Reap. The pass includes the choice of the Angkor Pass Package or the Privileged Pass Package, offering  visitors priority rights to use tourism services and visit the Angkor Archeological Park for the rest of their lives.

Long term expats have also been rewarded with the government acknowledging the long term residents who call Cambodia home (anyone living in the country for two years or more) by introducing a free Angkor Special Pass under a new government scheme for long-term foreign residents in Cambodia.

Since Q3 2022, domestic tourism was also set benefit from another “Travel Pass” – offering discounts for national and international tourists – with Kunthea Phirum, head of the Office of Domestic Tourism Promotion at the ministry saying the pass will be a  mechanism to organise affordable tour packages and help the tourism industry recover in 2022 and 2023.

*This is open to diplomats, investors, international organisations, foreigners working in companies and private enterprises of all kinds, experts working in ministries, public and private institutions, as well as families.

There is even a pass being considered for Thai tourists who reside in any of the seven provinces that border Cambodia – this will allow them to travel overland to Siem Reap province with only this border pass and not requiring a passport.

The ministries are looking to boost investment and tourism by making it easier to visit the country and with the added possibility of offering something similar for Vietnam or Laos.

The Cambodia My 2nd Home (CM2H) Program which was unveiled earlier in the year also targets foreigners looking to invest in Cambodia who can be eligible for a new 10-year visa.

Finally,following the announcement in early October 2022 that all visitors by land, sea or air will no longer need to produce health certificates or show proof of full vaccination upon arrival removed the final obstacle (or excuse) anyone could use for not visiting or investing in the Kingdom.

ASEAN and Cambodia Remain Attractive for Investors

The country and the region remain highly attractive to investment. Sun Chanthol, Senior Minister, Minister of Public Works and Transport confirmed that ASEAN had received the highest-ever FDI inflows of $182 billion in 2019 – making ASEAN the largest recipient of FDI in the developing world.

Although the numbers dipped during the height of the pandemic, key areas remain ripe for investment and the steps the country has taken to improve and enhance trade, ongoing plans to enhance the ASEAN transport connectivity, and make investment more transparent and easier in Cambodia all are bullish optimistic signals.

In the first eight months of 2022, Cambodia received just under a million international arrivals and with the most recent Nikkei Covid-19 Recovery Index indicating Cambodia is in the top percentile (ranking in the top 10 for four consecutive months) – we all need to do our part in flying the national and symbolic economic flags for the Kingdom.

In construction specifically, the Q3 2022 CBRE Market Insights report indicates that there are more than 400+ construction projects in Cambodia with 167 under development – this is a 20% year on year increase.

For Cambodia to see continued growth in the real estate market there are some key drivers that are important. The World Bank confirmed that Cambodia has “one of the fastest increases in financial inclusion rates” among developing economies in East Asia and the Pacific, and has maintained its positive outlook for the nation’s 2022 GDP.

With increasingly transparent payment systems and armed with new Investment and Trust Laws as well as a sleuth of investor and tourist friendly initiatives – the country is well-positioned to attract investment from domestic and foreign investors.